161st’s Public Appeal for More Soldiers

Battalion News – May 11, 1916

The May 11th edition of the Brussels Post, printed the following letter from the 161st Huron Battalion on the first page, under the large bold headline –

“To the Young Men of Huron.”

Dear Sir. – There are 13 Battalions recruiting within this Military district. Only two are junior to the 161st. Of the 13 Battalions, two – the Bruce and Middlesex are at full strength, while the remaining 11 have about the same number of enlistments, 800 to 903. It therefore follows that some one or two of these eleven are to be broken up and the men placed in the ranks of other battalions in order that they may be completed.

You will be personally responsible if this humiliation befalls the Hurons; if your friends and your neighbours, are to have their County badge torn off and the insignia of another and more patriotic and conscientious County placed upon their caps and shoulders; to have this Battalion lose its identity and to have it published broadcast throughout the Dominion that Huron, of all the Counties, was the only one that did not have a unit to represent her in this grave crisis.

Can you earnestly and truly assume this grave responsibility?

Will you not offer yourself and help avert this the greatest tragedy in your County’s history?

We appeal to you young men of Huron.


161st Huron Battalion, Clinton, May 8th, 1916.

In Wroxeter, at Victoria Hall, the recruiting meeting held on May 6th resulted in seven recruits offering to enlist. They were Charles Forrest, John M. Miller, Frank Shaw, John Hayden, Andrew Miller, John Snell and Will McDonald. Of the seven, Will McDonald did not pass  the medical examination and John Snell was too young. The remaining five have enlisted with the 161st Huron Battalion as part of the Wroxeter Company, and will commence active training immediately.

According to the Brussels Post, the enlistment of young men from the farms required different arrangements to be made to ensure the maintenance of the farm in their absence. In the Jamestown area, when Charlie Forrest enlisted, he arranged for David Johnston, of the same line, to look after his farm. When Richard Miller’s son, of the same area, enlisted, his father, Richard Miller, moved back to the farm from Wroxeter to look after its running.

Enlistments – May 11, 1916

On May 11, 1916, 8 men enlisted with the 161st Huron Battalion. All 8 survived their tour of duty overseas.

654842, COLLINS, (Pte.) James Wilson, “D” Company, enlisted in Hensall on May 11, 1916. It was later revealed that he was only 17 at the time. His next of kin was William Collins of Brucefield, ON. In order to enlist, Private James Collins had his mother sign his enlistment papers allowing him to go.

Private James W. Collins was photographed with Hensall’s Own, kneeling in the 2nd row, 13th from the left.

Private James Collins survived WWI. His wife, Mrs. E. Collins of Clinton, was a registered nurse who nursed Jim Collins when he was ill in the War Veterans’ hospital in London, ON. Jim Collins died in the War Veterans’ Hospital in July 1939.

654790, COOK, (Pte.) Milton Joshua, “C” Company, enlisted in Clinton on May 11, 1916. His next of kin was Joshua Cook of Clinton, ON.

According to Private Milton Cook’s sister-in-law, Miss. Frieda Schoenhals of  Clinton, ON, he was a member of the 161st Huron Battalion’s stretcher-bearers.

After the war, Milton J. Cook moved to Sarnia, where he became a customs officer with the federal civil service. By 1935, he was living at 212 Kathleen Avenue in Sarnia.

Milton Joshua Cook died on April 18, 1959.

654791, COWELL, (Pte.) Richard Tomlinson, “A” Company, enlisted in Wingham on May 11, 1916. His next of kin was Mrs. Francis Cowell of Wingham. His birthplace was England.

Private Richard Cowell survived WWI but died by 1935.

654792, CURRIE, (Pte.) David, “A” Company, enlisted in Wingham. His next of kin was Mrs. Jemima Currie of Wingham, ON. Private David Currie was photographed with “A Company”.

During the war, Private David Currie was transferred to a military police unit in England.

After the war, Dave Currie moved to St. Thomas, ON and worked as a security guard for an Ontario psychiatric hospital.

654803, DEXTER, (Pte.) Harold Lloyd, “B” Company, enlisted in Blyth on May 11, 1916. His next of kin was Mrs. Emma Dexter of Blyth, ON. Both Private Harold Dexter and Private Herb Dexter of the 161st Huron Battalion’s B Company were brothers and went overseas together.

Private Harold L. Dexter survived the war and by 1935 was living in Blyth, ON.

654806, HASTIE, (Pte.) Alexander Scott, “A” Company, enlisted in Wroxeter on May 11, 1916. His next of kin was Matthew Hastie of Harriston, ON.

Private Alexander S. Hastie had prior military experience with the 20th Regiment. Private Alex Hastie was photographed with Wroxeter’s Own in the back row, at the extreme left.

Private Alex S. Hastie survived WWI. In 1935, he was living in Durham, ON.

654811, LOVE, (Pte.) Harold Welington, “A” Company, enlisted in Brussels on May 11, 1916. His next of kin was William Love of Ethel, ON, a hamlet in Grey Township, east of Brussels. Private Harold Love was photographed with A Company of the 161st Huron Battalion in the 2nd front row.

Private H.W. Love survived WWI and was living in Ethel, ON in 1935.

654812, MORROW, (Pte.) Charles, “A” Company, enlisted in Brussels. His next of kin was Mrs. John Dilling of Ethel, ON.

Private Charles Morrow’s location was unknown in 1935.

2 thoughts on “161st’s Public Appeal for More Soldiers

  1. It’s hard to read the appeals for enlistment, and the use of guilt and shame. It was part of the times they lived in, and I suppose no one could be faulted for it. -an example of propaganda in a time when the unfortunate young men went blindly into something thy couldn’t understand. It’s a good thing that times have changed and humankind has developed past that kind of naive subservience to the authority of God and Country.
    At the same time those brave souls deserve all the respect,albeit posthumously,that we can give them.This site is an important testament to a kind of loyalty and bravery that was part of that time. Thank you for it.


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